3D Printing is Revolutionizing Fishing Lure Design

You know about 3D printing. It’s the burgeoning technology that allows people to print anything from car parts to guns at home. But did you know 3D printing is coming on strong in the fishing industry?

It makes sense if you think about it, especially for soft plastics (3D printing is based in hard plastic). So when FTR discovered that a growing player in the tackle game, BioSpawn Lure Company, was using extensive 3D printing as a development ground the news wasn’t shocking. But it was revealing.

About two years ago, the lure designers at BioSpawn partnered with New York-based 3D printing company Shapeways. And earlier this week, Shapeways posted a blog detailing how their relationship with BioSpawn works:

  • BioSpawn designs a lure concept in Solidworks, a 3D CAD software.
  • That design is sent to Shapeways where it is printed and sent back to BioSpawn.
  • The 3D model is then used to shape silicone molds for the Plastisol lures to be formed in.

Often, BioSpawn says, a lure design goes through up to a dozen changes before the final product is ready. And they are leveraging the speed of 3D printing to keep development times on track and hit target deadlines. But speed isn’t the only advantage of 3D printing, BioSpawn tells us. The silicone molds are extremely crisp thanks to the high-resolution 3D prints, and details like eyes shine through more clearly than with traditional, oil-based-clay methods of molding.

“We discovered that getting started in the industry of soft lures had one advantage over many other product industries,” BioSpawn told Shapeways, “The plastic used for soft lures is a low heat resin, so you don’t need big tooling (and big tooling costs) to get going with a new product. You can make a mold at home, in your basement or garage, heat up the plastic in your microwave and get good results. What this meant for us is a way to test our bait designs with the actual material they’d be produced in, and that we could keep costs down. All we needed to do was design some bait and make some molds.”

It’s a change in technique that is not only expediting fishing lure development, but also refining the process. Below, you can compare BioSpawn’s first run of molds made with traditional methods (the messy molds), versus their new, 3D silicone molds.



Shapeways says BioSpawn isn’t the only company who uses their services to print fishing lures, and they are seeing more and more people turn to 3D printing “to create exactly what they are looking for and can’t find anywhere else.”

For more insight on the 3D printing process itself, head over to the Shapeways blog for the rundown. You can learn more about BioSpawn Lures (distribution list growing daily) from their website and Facebook page.

In the meantime, it might be wise to invest in some CAD lessons so you can print your own soft plastic models like BioSpawn, or go for the hard baits like this Swedish guy.